Running on Empty

Since this plot seems to have interested director Steve Carr (Next Friday) as much as it did Monday's preview audience, the film also comes with jokes about teenage sex, rap music and a bear that acts like a "fairy," which means Dolittle doesn't only peddle KFC and Burger King, it peddles a reflex spasm of homophobia. That isn't surprising, since for all its sops toward the environmental and animal-rights movements, Dr. Dolittle 2 sells its politics the way most Hollywood movies do—with good intentions and dimwitted contradictions. This probably wouldn't be worth mentioning if the film had something else going for it, like a moment worthy of Murphy's talents, or if the contradictions weren't so egregious, even nutty. This is, after all, a movie that advocates the rights of animals to live in the wild, unburdened by human contact, through the use of several hundred trained animals, including a half-dozen bears, a pack of "wild" wolves (there are none in California) and an errant crocodile. Zahn's SoCal whine may occasionally elevate the film's lowest common denominator ("I can play polar," Archie boasts. "'I'm freezing!'"), but there's nothing funny about the sight of Tank dancing for his dinner. Talk to the animals, sure—just don't condescend to either them or us.

The Princess and the Warrior was written and directed by Tom Tykwer; produced by Stefan Arndt, Maria Köpf and Stefaan Schieder; and stars Franka Potente and Benno Fürmann. Now playing at the Nuart Theater, West Los Angeles; Dr. Dolittle 2 was directed by Steve Carr; written by Larry Levin, based on the stories by Hugh Lofting; produced by John Davis; and stars Eddie Murphy. Now playing countywide.

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